Irish controllers get double the US pay packet
Irish air traffic controllers earn far more than their counterparts in the US, Britain and France, but lag way behind Spain where the top earners pocket up to €900,000 a year.
Figures this week from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) reveal that the top 10pc of Irish air traffic controllers in Ireland are earning between €170,000 to €230,000 a year, while the average pay is €160,000.
Even allowing for the stress involved, it is generous remuneration, especially considering that they don't have to make contributions to what will be a lucrative pension entitlement upon retirement.
Basic starting salary for fully qualified controllers is just under €51,000. With a shift allowance included, it comes to nearly €75,000. The maximum basic pay for controllers, including shift allowance, is more than €112,000.
The IAA says it pays the equivalent of 30.5pc of every controller's salary towards their pension.
The controllers also get a 30-minute break for every two hours worked -- but that's in common with standard international practice.
In the United States, according to the government's Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average pay for the more than 26,000 air traffic controllers there, excluding overtime, in March 2009 was $109,000 (€77,000) -- that's less than half the average in Ireland.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration was told to raise the maximum salary level for air traffic controllers to $114,000 (€80,500). The minimum salary for a fully-qualified controller is almost $41,000 (€29,000).
In Britain, a newly qualified controller gets about £26,000 (€30,000), while the average pay is £60,000 (€69,000) and can rise to £90,000 (€103,000), according to National Air Traffic Services (NATS). In France, controllers are paid about €110,000 on average.
Even though their Irish counterparts are paid well, their pay packets pale into comparison with those received in Spain. There, the average basic annual salary for controllers is €200,000, which can be doubled or tripled with overtime.
There was uproar this month when it emerged 10 of Spain's 2,300 controllers were paid between €810,000 and €900,000 each in 2009. Another 226 got between €450,000 and €540,000 and 701 got between €270,000 and €360,000.